Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

diluted form of beer which is made from honey in nearly every household, and a white liquor of great potency made from raisin skins. Hence most of the imported beverages are consumed by foreigners in Ethiopia.

FOREIGN TRADE Ethiopia's foreign trade has never been nearly so great as the reputed wealth of the country would seem to justify. The balance of trade has long been unfavorable, and changed for the first time in 1924, when exports exceeded imports by 5,192 metric tons. The recurrent import surplus is attributable to the lack of productive industry in the country. Although no assertion can be ventured regarding future commercial developments, it is an undoubted fact that with a little effort to exploit the soil in a modern manner and to develop the country's untouched resources an export surplus could be established and the total volume of trade considerably increased.

The tables of imports, exports, and prices included in the present report are believed to be the first definite statements yet obtainable. They cover the total trade of Ethiopia via the port of Jibuti since 1910 and via the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan for the years 1922 to 1924, inclusive. The accuracy of the figures can not be guaranteed but they are useful for purposes of comparison and are considered to represent a very close estimate of the country's trade.

Although caravans carry on a large trade with the interior, the chief route for Ethiopian foreign commerce is the Franco-Ethiopian Railway from the capital to the French Red Sea port of Jibuti.

TRADE VIA JIBUTI

The tables given below show the exports and imports via Jibuti since 1910. As stated above, these figures are not official statistics, but since they are from a reliable source they may be relied upon as having a very fair degree of accuracy. In considering them, however, it should be remembered that they do not cover all Ethiopian trade, but only that carried on through the port of Jibuti. The more detailed commodity tables for the years 1923 and 1924 similarly cover only the trade through Jibuti.

TONNAGES OF PRINCIPAL IMPORTS INTO ABYSSINIA VIA THE FRANCO-ETHIOPIAN

RAILWAY SINCE 1910

[In metric tons)

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

1910 1911 1912 1913. 1914.. 1915. 1916 1917 1918. 1919. 1920 1921. 1922 1923 1924.

2,976 22, 844 28, 261 3,649 30, 358 37, 362 4,219 12, 071 19, 678

4, 735 33, 763 43, 464 233 6, 117

1,773 15, 060 245 4, 642 3, 048 17, 432 233 3, 994 1,674 14, 580 191 3, 572 113 20, 022 207 4, 116 1,942 20, 769 115 3, 586 1, 735 15, 233 191 3, 336 3,421 21, 358 220 2, 543 2, 029

11, 535 264 2, 505

1,753 14, 281 226 3, 381 2,359 22, 966

4, 438 3, 881 18,693

TONNAGES OF PRINCIPAL EXPORTS FROM ETHIOPIA VIA THE FBANCO-ETHIOPIAN

RAILWAY SINCE 1910

[merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

In addition to the preceding export estimates, via Jibuti, an addi-
tional table is here given, summarizing the exports of hides (and
skins), coffee, and wax by the same route, for 1922, 1923, and 1924. A
comparison will show a small but fairly uniform difference. These
discrepancies should not raise doubts as to the authenticity of either
set of tables, but rather tends to give them mutual support, since the
figures given below were obtained from a different source.

[blocks in formation]

The chief foreign routes of Ethiopia, in addition to the FrancoEthiopian Railway, are as follows: (i) West, through Gambeila, the trading station leased by Ethiopia to the Sudan Government, to Khartum by the White Nile; northwest through Gallabat by caravan to Singa, between Roseires and Sennar on the Blue Nile, and by river to Khartum; west to Roseires and by the Blue Nile River to Khartum; (2) south, through the frontier station of Moyale across Kenya Colony to Nairobi and the port of Mombasa ; (3) south, by the Juba River through Lugh and across Italian Somaliland to the port of Mogdishu; (4) east, through the country of the Ogaden tribes near the Somaliland frontier to the ports of Bulhar and Berbera; (5) north, through Gondar and across Eritrea to the port of Massawa; northeast through Aussa to the port of Assab.

The greatest volume of inland trade is carried on with and through the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, chiefly via the trading station at Gambeila, leased to the Sudan Government.

In comparing this trade with that from the coast, the difficulties of transit should be remembered. In order to use the tributaries of the White Nile and Blue Nile, goods must be packed over rough country, often for hundreds of miles, to very near the western frontier of Ethiopia, before they can be placed on river boats which connect with Sudan railways or with Khartum by water. The through water route is, moreover, interrupted by cascades and rapids, with the result that the Sudan railways are used for most of the transportation. If Khartum were connected with Abyssinian centers of production by rail extensions, the whole matter would be simplified.

The Sudan route for Ethiopian trade is complex in its ramifications, and what figures are available can not be guaranteed to cover all goods passing through that country to or from Ethiopia. Unlike the figures for Jibuti trade, moreover, which are in metric tons, the records for the remainder of the known Ethiopian trade are kept in money values.

EXPORTS VIA THE SUDAN In the following tables, the exports are grouped under three headings-namely, coffee, wax, and “various "—the total being given in Egyptian pounds. From this it is possible to arrive at a rough estimate of the number of hundredweights of these products shipped from Abyssinia via the Sudan. Coffee is by far the most important item. Allowing coffee to be worth, at current Aden export prices, about $20 per hundredweight, and counting the Egyptian pound to be about $5, it is found that in 1922, in round numbers, 50,000 hundredweight; in 1923, 37,700 hundredweight; and in 1924, 56,000

hundredweight of Ethiopian coffee passed into and through the Sudan. The quantity of wax for those years was relatively small, and can not so easily be calculated, since prices are not so uniform as in the case of coffee. The various” items include small quantities of all the exports listed in preceding tables of exports.

IMPORTS VIA THE SUDAN

The imports from and through the Sudan are seen in the following tables to include salt, Sudan products, cotton and silk fabrics, and * various," meaning general manufactures from Europe. Textiles are dominant in this case, a value of about $250,000 having been imported from the Sudan in 1922, $300,000 in 1923, and $360,000 in 1924. An item of this importance and apparent growth is not to be overlooked. It is clear, also, that the bulk of the textile imports into Ethiopia, via the Sudan, are from Manchester. Thus, in spite of the French railway monopoly to the east, the British are gaining headway, without railways in Ethiopia, from the west. The salt and Sudanese products referred to in the table below, seem to have steadily fallen off in quantity. Salt, of course, comes from the Red Sea coast, but Sudanese products are expected to increase when the present British cotton-growing campaign in the Sudan gets into its full stride.

ETHIOPIAN EXPORTS TO AND ACROSS THE SUDAN, AND IMPORTS FROM AND ACROSS

THE Sudan

[blocks in formation]

1 The average exchange rates for the Egyptian pound for the above years were: 1922, $4.54; 1923, $4.69; 1924, $4.53. In 1926, however, the pound was above par ($4.943) and was quoted locally in the Sudan at $5.02.

ETHIOPIAN CURRENCY

The Austrian thaler or dollar is the currency of Ethiopia. Although there are about 2,000,000 Menelik dollars in circulation, these are rapidly disappearing, being transmuted into ornaments and hoarded by those who are able to accumulate wealth. The British Bank of Ethiopia issues bank notes for silver dollars supposed to be in its vaults as guarantee, but the average native is suspicious of banks and paper money and will have nothing but the copied Austrian dollar of 1789. These dollars are still manufactured by Austrian mints and are bought and sold like any other article of merchandise. They are treated as money only in Ethiopia, Yemen, Hadramaut, Shehr, and the Arabian Persian Gulf area. There is

in Aden an English agent for the Austrian manufacturers of the dollars, who is responsible for their distribution.

In 1924 the total imports of Maria Theresa dollars were 5,499,036, Forth at the current exchange rate (which varies but little) of $0.54, exactly $2,969,480. This figure exceeds all records, imports haring steadily increased since the war-time scarcity of silver.

For some years—and certainly since 1918—the Maria Theresa dollars sent to Ethiopia have not been permitted to leave the country. This prohibition of reexportation is strictly enforced, although it is said that some smuggling is practiced. It is said that the coins are smuggled out of the country regularly in the sacks of grain sent by caravan, in soap, and even under the coal in the locomotive tenders of the Franco-Ethiopian Railway. A person leaving Abyssinia is allowed to carry with him the sum of five Maria Theresa dollars only.

Smuggling, however, does not account for the amazing disappearance of the imported dollars from circulation. There are probably not more than 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 of the coins in circulation at present, which is not much more than the imports in a single year. This disappearance is called “the mystery of Ethiopia,” even by those who import and distribute the dollars and who would ordinarily be expected to know the ultimate fate of the merchandise they handle. The favorite theory is that each Ethiopian is his own banker, gathering his wealth in tangible silver and hoarding it in the earth from which it came. There are in Ethiopia at present probably more than 50,000,000 of the Austrian dollars.

TRANSPORTATION PROBLEMS

Transportation in Ethiopia

is largely carried on by pack horses, mules, donkeys, and camels. The single railroad, about 495 miles in length and connecting Addis Ababa with the coast at Jibuti, is a monopoly in the hands of the Franco-Ethiopian Railway Co., formed in 1896. Over this road two trains a week are run in each direction.

The cost and difficulty of transportation via the Sudan has already been touched upon. It is for this reason that the Franco-Ethiopian Railway authorities are able to exact the high freight charges for all merchandise carried on their road. In 1925 the owners of the railway made a sweeping increase of 30 per cent in freight rates from Addis Ababa to Jibuti, the rates being made payable on a gold basis, which further increased the cost of shipment. This move created no little consternation among Ethiopian exporters of goat and sheep skins, since it was upon them that almost the whole burden fell. Even at the old rates the cost of railway transport of skins from Addis Ababa to Jibuti alone considerably exceeded ocean freight charges for the same skins from Jibuti to New York. Buyers of skins at Jibuti and Aden can not exceed the price limits fixed by their European and American clients, and naturally refuse to be concerned with the cost of delivery to the ports. In the opinion of the leaders of the skin trade the result of the increased freight rates will be the defeat of the very end it was calculated to effect-i. e., the increase of railroad revenues—since the overland transport will necessarily, they say, be diverted to other carriers and even to other ports.

« AnteriorContinuar »